26 April 2023

Shoalhaven Council calls for NSW Forestry to protect ancient giant in our midst

| Zoe Cartwright
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five people at giant tree base

Admirers with ”Big Spotty”, believed to be the world’s tallest spotted gum. Photo: Supplied.

If you wander into the Brooman State Forest, west of the Princes Highway between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay, you can touch a giant so ancient it was a sapling when Leonardo da Vinci was alive.

”Big Spotty” is believed to be the world’s tallest spotted gum, at 72 metres, and has a very respectable 12-metre circumference.

The section of the forest it grows in is marked for logging – and while Big Spotty will be protected, the damage to its home will leave it vulnerable.

On Monday (24 April), Shoalhaven City Council voted unanimously to ask the NSW Government to remove the section of forest Big Spotty lives in from the Forestry Corporation of NSW’s logging schedule, and to develop a long-term plan to protect the area.

Members of the Brooman State Forest Conservation Group attended the meeting in support, gathering inside a symbolic 12-metre rope, to show how enormous, and unique, the tree is.

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Group spokesperson Takesa Frank said the action followed a campaign over the past months to protect the area from logging.

“We appealed to Liza Butler, the new South Coast State MP and Shoalhaven councillor, to protect the forest that surrounds Big Spotty,” Takesa said.

Paul Dickson, of Nature Engagement Tours, said the tree was already a local attraction and had the potential to be marketed to overseas visitors.

“My local ecotourism business Nature Engagement Tours is gearing up for international tourists keen on seeing the natural beauty of Australian forests,” he said.

“The Shoalhaven needs to promote giant-tree tourism, which is already established in New Zealand, and we must save the forest around Big Spotty.”

Big Spotty is 3.8m across, with a circumference of more than 12 metres. Any tree more than 1.4m wide is classified as a giant by the Forestry Corporation of NSW.

As a giant tree, Big Spotty should be protected from being cut down by Forestry Corporation contractors.

However, in 2022, the corporation was fined by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority after it felled two giant trees at Wild Cattle Creek and caused significant damage to koala habitat in 2020 following the Black Summer bushfires.

Even if Big Spotty is left untouched, logging the trees around it and the use of heavy machinery nearby will affect the health of the tree, lobbyists say.

NSW Forestry Corporation has not yet responded to the council’s request.

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Steve Chivers3:49 pm 14 Nov 23

Great that they are showing enough respect to ‘protect’ old Spotty, which I guess means not chopping it down. But we seem to be starting to understand the how all the trees in the forest are connected and look after each other. If you chop all of Spotty’s mates down, he/she might fall sick and die in a couple of decades…


Nick HOPKINS6:36 am 27 Apr 23

At over 500 years old this national treasure will be jeopardized by logging scheduled to start in September this year! “Big Spotty” is likely to be the world champion of its species. It urgently needs a reserve created around it. NSW State Govt. needs to strategically intervene if Forestry Corporation won’t act to protect it. With huge domestic and international tourist potential the forest surrounding Big Spotty must also remain unlogged. This is such a small ask for such great benefit.

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